Good Friday – 20 Centuries Ago…

jesus-crucifixion

On Good Friday, while we go through our daily routines, use your imagination and travel back with me twenty centuries to the dusty roads of southern Palestine.

The son is appearing over the horizon. By this time, the rooster has crowed, alerting Simon Peter to the fact that, just as Jesus predicted, he would deny Jesus not once, but three times during the previous night. The other disciples have scattered in fear.

Jesus has spent the entire night facing an illegal, hostile, kangaroo court designed to railroad him into a verdict of execution.

The Jewish leaders have demanded an audience with Pontius Pilate, who, normally in Caesarea, is in Jerusalem because of the crowds associated with Passover. Pilate tolerates the Jewish leaders, hearing them out. But, seeing through their false accusations, Pilate agrees not (yet) to have Jesus executed, but to have him flogged. (death may be less cruel)

Jesus is about to have his back shredded and ripped from his body, producing voluminous blood-loss and hypovolemic shock. This was the type of torture from which prisoners often died. The Roman writer, Cicero, described it as “the cruelest and most hideous punishment possible.”

But, the crowds aren’t satisfied with the flogging.  They want death!  “Crucify him!”, they shout repeatedly.  So the verdict is handed down….the death penalty. For only Rome has the authority to execute a death sentence. And their favorite form of execution? Crucifixion.

Crucifixions are “events” intended to send a message of terror to the onlooking crowds: “Thinking about rebelling again Rome? Behold! This is your fate should you follow through.”

But, this is Good Friday, right? Given Jesus’ condition, how could anyone ever describe it as “good?”

Because, without the crucifixion, there can be no resurrection.

I saw a sign once sitting outside a coffee shop on the Friday prior to Easter.  It read:

“Come on in – where every Friday is Good – and no one has to die.”

That’s a nice sentiment, I guess.  But it completely contradicts what God says:

“For all have sinned…. [and] the wages of sin is death.”

Translation:  The verdict is in.  We’re all guilty of sin.  Every last one of us.  And God’s payment to us – the wages we have earned for our sin – is death.  An eternal death sentence.

Today, consider Him who died, so that we wouldn’t have to.

This is the Gospel.

To put it in the words of contemporary culture:

karma

From John MacArthur’s brilliant “God With Us”:

“Think for a moment about how Jesus died. It was not an easy, gentle passing from this world. It was excruciating agony and torture of the worst kind, for it was on a cross. He suffered in His death. He drank the bitter cup at Calvary in its fullness – He drained it to the last drop. He experienced all the pain, all the loneliness, all the torments that have ever been associated with death…..The death He tasted was the penalty of our sin.

The prophet Isaiah, seven centuries before Christ was born, put it this way:

“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain,… Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering,… He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (53:3-5; emphasis mine)

MacArthur adds,

Jesus Christ received the full force of all that the devil could throw at Him. More than that (far more), He received the full expression of God’s wrath over sin.”

Contrary to the sign outside the coffee shop, according to God – someone did have to die.

So Christ did. For us. Willingly.

Why? Because of his relentless love for us all.

It’s Friday,…but Sunday’s Comin’, Nick

 

Day 2 (of 3) – A Sermon for the Ages

What was Jesus doing between his death & his resurrection?

No one knows for certain. But there is a most curious passage in Peter’s first letter. Here it is:

1 Peter 3:18-22 (NLT) – Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit. So he went and preached to the spirits in prison (cf. 2 Peter 2:4) — …[freedom in Christ] is effective because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Now Christ has gone to heaven. He is seated in the place of honor next to God, and all the angels and authorities and powers accept his authority.

What does “So he went and preached to the spirits in prison” mean? There are varying schools of thought on this passage. Here’s one opinion….

John MacArthur comments on this passage: “Between Christ’s death and resurrection, his living spirit went to the demon spirits bound in the abyss and proclaimed that, in spite of his death, he had triumphed over them.”

If MacArthur’s right, all I can think is: Can you imagine hearing that sermon from Jesus?? It must’ve gone something like this: “You tortured me. You killed me. But, behold – I AM quite ALIVE! I AM the firstborn of all creation! I AM the Lamb who is the Shepherd! I AM the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. I AM the resurrection and the life! And you? You are going to regret you ever met Me. You are going to regret you ever hurt my children.” (I’m guessing there was no “invitation” at the end of the service.)

In my mind’s eye, I can see the demons cowering in unspeakable terror as the Lion from the tribe of Judah ROARS!

Listen this day for the roar of the Lion. Can you hear it? He’s roaring, “Remember…you were separate from [Me],…without hope and without God in the world. But now in [Me] you who once were far away have been brought near by [My blood!]” (Eph. 2:12-13)

Soli Deo Gloria (and for Narnia!), nw

Aslan

Good Friday – Twenty Centuries Ago…

By Good Friday morning, the rooster has crowed, alerting Simon Peter to the fact that, just as Jesus predicted, he would deny Jesus not once, but three times. The other disciples have scattered in fear.

Jesus has spent the entire night facing a very illegal, very hostile, kangaroo court designed to railroad him into a verdict of execution.

The Jewish leaders have demanded an audience with Pontius Pilate, who, normally in Caesarea, is in Jerusalem because of the crowds associated with Passover. Pilate tolerates the Jewish leaders, hearing them out. But, seeing through their false accusations, Pilate agrees not (yet) to have Jesus executed, but to have him flogged.

Jesus is about to have his back shredded, ripped from his body, producing voluminous blood-loss and hypovolemic shock.

Friday morning, while we go through our daily routines, use your imagination and travel back twenty centuries. The crowds are satisfied with the flogging.  They want death!  “Crucify him!”, the shout repeatedly.  So verdict is handed down….a death sentence. For only Rome has the authority to execute a death sentence. And their favorite form of execution? Crucifixion.

Crucifixions are “events” intended to send a message of terror to the onlooking crowds: “Thinking about rebelling again Rome? Behold! This is your fate should you follow through.”

But, this is Good Friday. Why? Because, without the crucifixion, there can be no resurrection.

I saw a sign once sitting outside a coffee shop on the Friday prior to Easter.  It read:

“Come on in – where every Friday is Good – and no one has to die.”

That’s a nice sentiment, I guess.  But it completely contradicts what God says:

“For all have sinned…. [and] the wages of sin is death.”

Translation:  The verdict is in.  We’re all guilty of sin.  Every last one of us.  God’s payment to us for our sin is death.  An eternal death sentence.

Today, consider Him who died, so that we wouldn’t have to.

This is the Gospel.

To put it in the words of contemporary culture:

karma

From John MacArthur’s brilliant “God With Us”:

“Think for a moment about how Jesus died. It was not an easy, gentle passing from this world. It was excruciating agony and torture of the worst kind, for it was on a cross. He suffered in His death. He drank the bitter cup at Calvary in its fullness – He drained it to the last drop. He experienced all the pain, all the loneliness, all the torments that have ever been associated with death…..The death He tasted was the penalty of our sin.

The prophet Isaiah, seven centuries before Christ was born, put it this way:

“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain,… Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering,… He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (53:3-5; emphasis mine)

MacArthur adds,

Jesus Christ received the full force of all that the devil could throw at Him. More than that (far more), He received the full expression of God’s wrath over sin.”

Why? Because of his relentless love for us all.

It’s Friday,…but Sunday’s Comin’, Nick

Redemptive Violence

I’ve supplied for my former Sr. Pastors dozens of times, as well as preached every Wed. night to students for almost 25 years. Truth be told, preaching & teaching are my #1 passions- far more than leading music. I’ve always seen myself as a “preacher disguised as a musician.” 🙂 This is why I continue to preach/teach on Sunday evenings here at BHBC.

When I was a full-time Youth Pastor, I was able to preach a lot on Sunday mornings. However, since I transitioned into the role of a Music Pastor, I tend to be “busy” on Sunday mornings leading the music. 🙂 However, in the Spring of 2011, my Sr. Pastor, Jerry Joplin, dropped by my office and asked me if I’d like to preach that April in his absence. I stumbled across the video of that sermon last week and watched it for the very first time.

It is interesting to listen to yourself trumpet the truths of the Gospel – what Christ made available to us through His life, death & resurrection – PRIOR TO horrific tragedy in your life.
(I refer to my son, Jordan Blake Watts, at the 3:45 mark. He was in the audience.) As I listened to what I said that morning – now on the other side of my son’s suicide – I had to ask myself, “Do I still believe this?”

My RESOLUTE answer: If possible, I believe it MORE now than I did then!
“The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away,” wailed Job. “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (1:21) God is still God. And God is still good. And, because of “redemptive violence”, Jordan is more alive than you and i have ever been! And in the presence of the Risen Christ who made it all possible.

I’ve included the link to the sermon here. It’s from April 3, 2011. Significantly – and this is no accident – the sermon (given during the Easter Season) is about the redemptive work of Christ on the cross. After Pastor Rick Warren’s son also took his life last year, Warren asked the rhetorical question, “How do we make it through what we’re going through in this life?” He answered, “The answer is Easter.” Hallelujah, Nick

“Hallelujah”

Another gorgeous rendition of Cohen’s classic…..

A friend sent this video to me. I made the mistake of viewing it while in my “local saloon” (Starbucks). By the final verse I was weeping heavily – in large part, because, due to my son’s death last May, my appreciation for Christ’s cross & resurrection has gone deeper still.

NOTE: The soloist is Catholic (made evident in her introduction) so her doctrine differs from evangelical Christianity in regard to who “mediates between God and men.” Catholicism still holds to the Old Testament office of the priest, while New Testament Christianity holds to Paul’s instruction to Timothy that there is “one mediator between God and men, the Man Jesus Christ.” (1 Timothy 2:5)

That said, this precious woman re-wrote Cohen’s hauntingly beautiful “Hallelujah” for Easter. This youtube clip now has over a million hits. The lyrics are biblically sound, her voice is absolutely beautiful, and the Children’s Choir that backs her up is the “icing the on cake.”

Enjoy, my friends! He is risen! And that changes everything. Hallelujah!